I just got back from an amazing experience and it went by in a flash. I stayed at an artists residency in Truth or Consequences, NM. It was completely self guided. I didn't have to take a class, or teach, I just got up when I wanted, made breakfast, answered emails, or whatever... maybe went on a hike, and I was off to the studio, for two whole weeks.
First off, T or C is a little tiny town. It used to be called Hot Springs, NM. They changed their name for some TV game show host, its a whole story, but now they have this unique name, in the middle of no where. Its two hours south of Albuquerque, and 3 hours south of Santa Fe.
I'd get into the studio around 11am-1pm and go for hours. Just listening to podcasts, music, whatever I'm in the mood for, and just begin. I'm not sure how that process works, like... what gets me started? I often think of layering color combinations, or think of geometric shapes to jump off of, or smear paint in organic ways and respond to that. Since I have begun working non-objectively I'm not just working with the idea of "layers" but I am actually continually working through layer over layer, creating history and capturing marks in time on the panels. Sometimes I create something semi- accidentally that has a tension. It can be simultaneously ugly, but fun, interesting, and having moments of beauty. I am creating things that can be hard to digest, but are captivating to look at. The viewer, if they allow themselves, can get caught up in little moments on the surface, maybe even questioning how something was done. Making something that captures interest, or something strange is compelling to me.
Last year I was looking a lot at "The New Casualists" movement in painting. This is such an enthralling movement, people are not afraid to do things non-traditionally, and dare I say...a bit ugly, but still being painterly. They are ripping the canvas, and cutting out holes to expose the stretcher bars and letting that become part of the composition, smearing paint over ripped fabric capturing all the frayed edges of the fabric, stuck in the paint. I know that Rauchenberg among others is being channeled here, nothing new truly exists anymore, it's all referential but things can still be done in iterations and with inventiveness that makes it specific to it's time period. Anyhow, when I look at that work like Zak Prekop, Amy Feldman, Molly Zuckerman-Hartung, or even Keltie Ferris, and the Bay Area's Kimberly Rowe, it's intentional imperfection stirs me. It puts that fire in my belly that emanates up to my chest, and I just wanna explode with color and pattern and... a little disharmony. I shunned black out of the tube for years and taught that in my class room, now I'm shedding that old fashioned rule, and bringing black back. I am also very excited by the prospect of optical illusion, ...and confusing optical illusion at that... If you thought a line or mark went over, and then that line goes under, and your mind is confused by that, then good. I have done something I desired to do, created confusion, a visual noise.
As you'll see in the pictures I have also began to make clay sculptures that walk the line between sculpture and painting. I a, playing with the idea of breaking the traditional plane of rectangles and squares. I like lumpy, broken, unpredictable shapes, and clay is giving me that flexibility to make those non-traditional shapes. If you don't know who Mandy-Lyn Ford is, you should look her up. She is an LA artist that is just awesome. She loves weird ugly things also, I feel like I am having a visual conversation with her. I was trying to break from the traditional rectangle over the summer with some rough wood panels I built, but they weren't odd enough, and getting out a saw every time I wanted to change a shape became cumbersome, so I switched to air dry clay whilst in NM. These little guys are proto-types but I feel really good and pretty excited about where they might go.
So, with that said.. Here are some photos from the two weeks I was in NM. its a tiny residency, "Starry Night" just myself, another artist who is very mixed media, paint, photography etc, and a writer/performance artist. We kept to ourselves, had a little chatter, but mostly went to the studio, the hot springs, and holed up in our little apartments. It was such a soothing regenerative time. I could do it everyday for the rest of my life. In fact.... maybe I'll just move there, ha! I met the most amazing artist, he is about 79 years old, Fernando Mercado, and like me, he has painted many landscapes in his time, but now sticks to an abstract, or non-objective style. He is also concerned with spirituality, geometry and color.... We where like the same person, except, Fernando is an old man at 79, and I am a young woman at 34. He offered to let me paint up stairs in his second story whenever I want and stay with him, we hold each others work in very high regard. He said once he saw my work, he was very excited and felt like his brain was on fire, I also was very excited to stumble upon his work on a Saturday night art walk. After that night, I went back and we shared coffee and stories and spoke about art, San Francisco and Bonnard. I couldn't have asked for a better way to end my residency than to make contact with a kindred spirit.
Please enjoy this assortment of images.
(all are copyrighted material of Leanne C. Miller, do not use with out my permission)